May 26, 2011

A Pain in My Heart

A photo of my mother as a teenager we found while cleaning the house.

When you get a call in the middle of a work day from one of your siblings you have a sudden rush of panic. As you glance at the number on your phone you have a feeling in your gut that it's probably not good news. The day after Mother's Day my sister called me to tell me my mother was in the hospital. She explained what had transpired and suggested I come home sooner than later. I jumped on the first train out of the city and got to Virginia before they were to do a procedure to fix what was causing a blockage in her throat. Afterwards, the news wasn't what a family wants to hear. Different doctors made their assessments and suggestions of treatments or the option to decline them. I believe I was (and still am) numb to what was said. I heard everything the doctors were saying but it was too unbelievable to grasp. She's here, she's talking, she can eat and drink and she's smiling.... She feels better.

Suddenly in the days following there was an urgency to clean the house, take things to thrift stores, to the dump and recycling. "Organizers" were hired, hospice was called, caretakers, nurses and social workers stopped by and filled out papers, asked questions and took notes. My brother went into a cleaning, organizing frenzy. I did little comparatively. I felt like I was watching a strange nightmare from the sidelines and I wanted to slam on the breaks of this chaos. To make matters worse, as well as adding to my mental anguish, this happened to coincide with the anniversary of Mario's death.

Having been gone for 2 weeks I needed to come back to "my home" and try to get some work lined up. I was torn by the guilt of leaving as well as relieved to be stepping away from the sadness and tension a family feels during these times. We were all very much on edge. Each of us having a different opinion as to what could and should be done in regard to almost everything.

Needless to say I'll be making frequent trips to Virginia.

There are few things harder to deal with than one of your parents being extremely ill. I was lying in bed with my mother watching Oprah the other afternoon. She sat up and asked me to scratch her back. As I did, she laughed because I don't have any fingernails. Sitting there I couldn't help but think that all those times we argued and bickered over small trivial things seemed so insignificant now. All I could think of was how much I loved her and what a wonderful, supportive mother she had been to me all these years.

I have such a pain in my heart.

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